Swimming siblings aren’t rivals


    As an underclassman on an athletic team, the pressure is automatically applied when the graduated seniors leave the university.

    But on top of that, there can be more pressure to live up to a certain set of expectations when a sibling is an athlete at the same university.

    More often, especially on the TCU campus, siblings are on the same team.

    The Horned Frog Swimming and Diving team has three sets of siblings competing in the Mountain West Conference: Jennifer and Elizabeth Oster, Zrinka and Gabi Korac and Ross and August Van Allen.

    Although the Van Allen brothers swim different events, junior kinesiology major Ross said it increases the sibling rivalry.

    Senior business major Jennifer and senior biology major Zrinka have already made their mark at swim meets and in the water.

    Now it is up to the seniors’ younger siblings to make a mark of their own.

    With multiple sets of siblings on one athletic team, Swimming and Diving Head Coach Richard Sybesma believes that it is helpful.

    Sybesma is going on his 33rd season and said the sibling connection allows the younger siblings to become familiar with what the team has done, what they do in meets and how they are expected to perform.

    Sybesma believes that the number of siblings on the Swimming and Diving team shows that the older brother or sister is happy with their experience here at TCU.

    “They wouldn’t come here if there wasn’t something going right with the program and their brother or sister,” Sybesma said.

    Another positive aspect of having a sibling on the same team is being able to see each other more often than if they attended different universities.

    The Oster sisters from Colorado discussed the exciting possibility of being able to swim on the same team, but Jennifer did not want to influence her younger sister’s decision-making process.

    Jennifer gave her sister the initial idea of coming to swim with her at TCU, but freshman pre-major Elizabeth ultimately decided on her own that this campus was the best choice for her.

    It is not just about being an older sister to Elizabeth, it is also about setting an example for all the younger swimmers, Jennifer said.

    All of the underclassmen are like the senior class’s little sisters, Jennifer said.

    “If they are having tough times it is up to us to make sure we are their listening ear and make sure they can come to us if they have any problems,” Jennifer said.

    Having an older sister who is not only one of the leaders on the swim team but also one of the athletes that has set swim records puts some pressure on Elizabeth, but it does not affect the way she performs.

    “I am going to do just as good as her, but I also want to do my own thing and make a name for myself,” Elizabeth said.

    Jennifer helped Elizabeth through the entire college process but made it clear that it was her choice when it came down to choosing a university.

    Now the Oster sisters are not only living in the same state again, but also swimming on the same team.

    Sophomore interior design major Gabi said that it was a coincidence that older sister Zrinka’s amazing experience at TCU was exactly what she was looking for.

    Gabi had problems with her major at her previous college in Arkansas because she could not swim and fulfill her major simultaneously. She ultimately decided to stay with her major and find another university that could accommodate what she wanted to do.

    “[Zrinka] only said good things about TCU,” Gabi said. “So from what she said and what I saw, I realized that TCU was the place for me.”

    Gabi said it is comforting to have that family support both on the swim team and at the university.

    The TCU athletic department has a plethora of athlete relatives, from brothers and sisters, to cousins on different teams.

    The pressure to live up to the expectations of not only an older sibling, but also a Horned Frog athlete, is certainly present.

    But the siblings find positive reinforcement in having a relative on the team, and ultimately, the family bond within the game.